Calera natives added to roster

Two more players from Calera have been added to the roster of the Central Alabama Renegades, an AAA Minor League football team, set to begin its fourth season of play.

Joining Danny Keicher, a Calera High School graduate returning to the team in 2003, will be Calera graduates Mick Lunsford and Chuck Horn.

The AAA Renegades are members of the North American Football League (NAFL), which is the top AAA Football League in the nation. The NAFL consist of over one hundred teams in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The team’s mission is to provide an avenue for young players to further their football careers and provide quality family entertainment to the community.

In their first three years of existence the Renegades have been a playoff team all three season and have posted an overall record of 31-8.

The Renegades have advanced to the Southeast Regional Championship Game in two of the last three seasons and played for the National Championship in 2001 but were defeated by the Austin Rattlers of Austin, Texas.

Lunsford, according to the teams coach, has made great strides at quarterback during the pre-season and is expected to see playing time this season.

The addition of Horn will add height at receiver.

Horn is 6-foot, 3-inches and along with veteran Merkerson who is also 6-foot, 3-inches, could cause some matchup problems for some teams.

Although the Renegades have had a great deal of success over the last three seasons they are looking at starting the 2003 season with several unanswered questions.

Due to the loss of several key players over the last few years, some moving on to play professionally and others retiring from football, the Renegades are in a rebuilding mode this year.

There is a solid nucleus of veteran players on both offense and defense to build upon so the cupboard is not exactly empty but several rookie players will have to step up and contribute early. Quarterback J.R. Richardson (ASU) will be depended upon heavily to direct the offense.

Richardson will have the luxury of three returning starting receivers from 2002 &045; Lamont Mitchell (Southwest State University), Rodrice Merkerson and Keicher of Calera all return for the 2003 Season.

At running back Antonio Parker (ASU) and Prentice Martin-Bowen (Hinds J.C.) return and rookie B.J. Cook of Wetumpka will be looked at to help add speed in the backfield.

Tim Daniels (Southern University) has been moved from defensive end to tight end where he has preformed very well. The return of Gorman Thornton (Hinds J.C.) and the movement of Daniels have strengthened the tight end position.

The Renegades’ offensive line, which will average 6-foot, 3-inches, 335 pounds across the front, will be anchored by, center Jesse Marsh (Jones J.C.).

In addition to Marsh both left tackle Duke Vaiga (Murray State University) and Darryl Blue will be returning.

Rookie offensive lineman Sanchez Mays of Luverne and Ralph Neely of Wetumpka will be depended upon to solidify the front five.

On the defensive side of the ball veteran linebacker John Campbell and defensive back Ervine Norman will both have to be true team leaders to make the 2003 campaign a success.

Defensive end Eric Seabon (Univ. of West Alabama) and defensive tackle Austin Jones will have to anchor a defensive front full of new faces.

Joining Campbell in the linebacking corps will be rookies Cornelus Smith (Lincoln University) and Antonio Taylor, both of Wetumpka.

Former outside linebacker Darryl Smith and former running back John Hargray (Troy State University) have been moved to defensive back to add size and depth in that area.

On special teams the Renegades have both punter Keith Jones (Troy State University) and kicker Kevin Jones (Troy State University) returning for the 2003 Season.

Both were a major asset during the 2002 campaign and their return will help the Renegades to remain very strong in the kicking game.

Receivers Lamont Mitchell and Danny Keicher of Calera will handle the kick return duties, Mitchell returning kick-offs and Keicher returning punts.

Both were among the leaders in the Southeast Region last season, Keicher set a record last season for most return yards in a single game.

The return of special teams captain Mark Alexander (Univ. of West Alabama) and the addition of deep snapper Matt Powell should make for a solid special teams performance during the 2003 season.

The Renegades open the season on Saturday, June 28 when they play host to the Louisiana Hurricanes